Last week Girl Friday released their debut LP, Androgynous Mary via Hardly Art. The album tackles contrasting themes of despair and disenfranchisement as well as optimism and a will to survive together as a band. In the past the band has described themselves as “genre-fluid,” but the album’s sound is definitively rooted in noisy post-punk and indie garage rock. The LA-based band consists of guitarist Vera Ellen, bassist Libby Hsieh, drummer Virginia Pettis and guitarist Sierra Scott. We caught up with them for some light-hearted banter about the new album.
Hi! How’s your day going?
Sierra: My day is lovely! I accidentally woke up at 2pm and non-accidentally started listening to the podcast Radio Rental, which I recommend.
Libby: This morning I woke up and fell on the ground. Then, I fed four chickens.
Virginia: I just finished reading a book and I’m enjoying a nice cup of coffee so pretty good so far.
So… where are you right now?
Vera: On a floating ball of paradise in the middle of the vast black abyss of space and unknowingness seemingly protected by the flaming balls of fire and materials that pass by but yet not entirely confident in that we may not dismantle any sec now… more specifically in New Zealand and Los Angelas and (soon-to-be) New York.
Libby: In my head again!
Sierra: Reclined on my fancy green couch, pretending to prepare for my cross-country move.
Virginia: I’m in my childhood bedroom in San Diego. There are a lot more cat figurines than I remembered…
Tell us a bit about you, what do you do for fun?
Vera: For fun we like to bathe in gold and chuckle at the expense of the working class.
Libby: I like to vacation in the Hamptons and drink natural sparkling wine next to my 20-foot-long infinity pool.
Sierra: Listen, you’ll have to excuse me. I have a lunch meeting with Cliff Huxtable at the Four Seasons in 20 minutes.
Virginia: I’m not entirely sure I understand this question.
What is the origin of the band name Girl Friday?
Vera: One time it was a Friday and there was a girl and we were like “wait a second….”
You must be excited about releasing Androgynous Mary, your debut LP! Did quarantine affect the completion of the album?
Virginia: Luckily it did not! We started recording the LP last summer with our producer Norm Block (who also worked on the EP) and finished right before the end of the year. Although we didn’t have to work during a quarantine, we did have to schedule around two month-long North American tours, in addition to our hectic schedules.
Vera: When quarantine started we were actually working on new material for the next record but alas…
Since you are grounded from touring, do you have any creative promotion plans? Any live streams?
Vera: Mom and Dad said if we behave and don’t continue to be silly and spread the global pandemic we get to tour again one day.
Libby: I’d like to burrow deeper in my little hole and just write until my eyeballs are merely sockets.
Virginia: Perhaps a dead stream or two.
Sierra: If by “creative promotion plans” you mean posting my roommate’s document about Trent Reznor’s evolution from Trentamin to Tront to Beef Daddy Reznor, then absolutely.
So who is Androgynous Mary? Why did you choose this as the album title?
Sierra: Depending on whom you ask, Androgynous Mary may be an entity living within each of us, a mural in Echo Park, or even the toddler whose likeness appears on sunblock bottles.
What is your writing process?
Virginia: Usually someone will bring an idea to rehearsal and then we’ll all play around with it until it starts to take shape. When that doesn’t work, we scour the personals on Craiglist. It’s a tumultuous goldmine of emotions in there.
OK, we need to talk about the video for lead single ‘Amber’s Knees: A Matter of Concern’! Dare I ask why you all appear dressed like Bret Michaels, lead singer of Poison? (Which is just awesome, by the way!)
Libby: Ya know, Bret was calling to us and we couldn’t say no to him! I mean! It’s Bret Michaels! It just happened with a slight flick of the wrist.
Sierra: We got caught up in a Rock of Love fever dream. [Ed – that’d be Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, a reality dating show from 2007-2009.] We joked about filming a music video as four Bret Michaels until we found ourselves in a workspace restroom with thick leather bracelets, temporary tattoos, full choreography, and cameras at the ready. The song itself came together in pretty much the same way, as all good songs do.
Back to the album: first song ‘This Is Not The Indie Rock I Signed Up For’ and last song ‘I Hope Jason Is Happy’ pair nicely as bookends to the album. Was this deliberate?
Vera: Everything is deliberate. We crafty….
Sierra: Kind of you to notice! We feel like those two bookend the album nicely.
How do you like to describe your music? I’ve heard you compared to many band styles in different genres.
Vera: Pirate radio.
Libby: Harsh sounds melting into something sweet.
Virginia: It’s like when Harry opens the golden egg on land in the Goblet
Sierra: Melvin Doo’s dreamscape.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Vera: Takako Uemura.
Libby: Nicolas Jaar’s album Space is Only Noise If You Can See.
Virginia: Cry Babe! They’re an amazing band from Portland, Oregon. They released their latest album last month and it’s been on repeat in my apartment.
Finally, what’s the question I should have asked you today but haven’t?
Sierra: Which fictional villain has had the greatest impact on your current sense of self?
Vera: Name the entire Poison discography in alphabetical order but backward.